It was interesting to read this article from today's New York Times. Here are a couple of thoughts about it:
- Had Diebold not cracked down in such an unethical way on their legitimate critics, this controversy would not have grown in the way that it has - and the New York Times certainly would not have printed today's story. In the same way that Fox's laughable lawsuit only served to boost the sales of Al Franken's book, Diebold's copyright cudgel has been a PR nightmare for them. When will people and companies learn not to make this mistake again and again?
- This ultimately comes down to constitutional law. Both copyright and freedom of speech are grounded in the US constitution. If I were a hard core DMCA supporter, I'd also be very mad at Diebold. Their actions are hastening a collision between the DMCA and the First Amendment. If the DMCA is going to be used in this manner to stifle legitimate debate about the heart of the political process (voting), there is a chance that it will be held unconstitutional. Maybe this is a slim chance, maybe not, but if I were one of the DMCA's beneficiaries, I'd be worried about this gamble. So long as the debate about the DMCA was framed as whether people should be able to download music for free - it was never really going to get anywhere. But this Diebold case is different - in the post Florida 2000 world, it's really struck a nerve.